Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Scott Walker's plan to tap-dance into the White House

Amanda Marcotte at TPM points out how refusing to answer questions works to advance Scott Walker's presidential ambitions:
It appears that Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin believes he can shrug his way into being the Republican nominee for president. ...

This entire situation is so comical that it’s hard to imagine it’s doing anything but hurting Walker’s chances. Yet there is actually a method to his madness. While Democratic-leaning voters can be driven to distraction by politicians who refuse to take a side on contentious issues like this, the dodge-and-weave actually plays right into the hands of Republican voters, both of the Tea Party variety and the people who don’t care for all that culture war nonsense and just want lower taxes on rich people.

Both stripes of Republican voters will likely take Walker’s shruggie act as an indication that he secretly views things the way they do. For the rightwing ideologues, hearing Walker punt on issues like ISIS or whether or not Obama is a secret Muslim feeds right into their paranoid narratives about how the evil liberal media is suppressing rightwing truths. “He secretly agrees with us,” the narrative goes, “but he can’t say so out loud without being crucified by the liberal media.”

For those Republicans who don’t actually buy the birther narratives about Obama or who don’t reject the theory of evolution, however, the signal sent by Walker’s dunno posturing is a little different. To them, it’s: “He’s not an imbecile, but he has to play to the rubes in order to win Iowa.”

That’s why there’s an excellent chance that Walker’s little dance will work. Tea Party types get to have their victimization narrative flattered and elites get to have their sense that they’re bamboozling the rubes played to. Just as importantly, Walker’s refusal to take a stand on any of this makes it easier for him to appear sensible and moderate to the public at large if he does win the nomination.

Frightening, isn't it? But it makes sense. Our media certainly won't pin him down.

And Republicans are nothing if not faith-based. They want to believe what they want to believe. If Walker said anything, one way or another, he'd piss off someone. When he refuses to answer, they can all imagine that he agrees with them.

As a Democrat, I find it absolutely infuriating when a politician says nothing in an attempt to appeal to everyone. (If that's not common among Democratic politicians, it certainly feels that way. Why not stand up for progressive values?)

Republicans, though, tend to think that everyone agrees with them, but just can't say so because of 'political correctness' or 'the liberal media' or some other wacky conspiracy. Remember, they're the 'moral majority.' If you don't believe it, just ask them.

So if Scott Walker tap-dances around a question, it's clearly because he agrees with them, but can't say so. As Marcotte points out, that feeds into their own narrative, whatever it might be. Unfortunately, it also tells rational - but uninformed - people absolutely nothing. (If you're rational and informed, there's no way you'd consider voting for Scott Walker, anyway.)

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